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Colombiafrank’s Riohacha Colombia Travel Guide

Beach in Riohacha

Updated on 02/21/2024

Dear readers
My name is Frank and I run a tour operator in Bogota, specializing in custom-made and Colombia luxury travel.
At the end of this guide you will find a list of many other helpful travel guides for Colombia.

Why Visit Riohacha?

The city of Riohacha, popularly known as “La Tierra del Rio”, is the capital of the department of La Guajira and is located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, in the delta of the Ranchería River.

The city borders to the east with the Ranchería River and the municipalities of Maicao and Manaure, to the south with the municipalities of Distracción, Barrancas, Hatonuevo and San Juan del Cesar, to the north with the Caribbean Sea and to the west with the municipality of Dibulla.

Riohacha is an excellent travel destination as it offers stunning landscapes as well as beaches. You can also learn a lot about the indigenous culture and be infected by the happiness that always emanates from the inhabitants.

Riohacha facts

  • Known as the capital of magical arreboles, Riohacha is also known as the mestiza of the Northeast.
  • The main shopping centers in Riohacha are the Suchiimma Shopping Center and the Viva Centro Comercial.
  • Riohacha is home to numerous Wayúu, Wiwa, Kogui, Ika and Arhuaco indigenous communities.
  • Riohacha is 5 meters above sea level.
  • Riohacha is one of the oldest post-Hispanic cities in Colombia.
  • Riohacha is very popular with lovers of water sports such as kayaking and kite surfing.
  • Riohacha is divided into 10 parishes, 14 corregimientos and 8 indigenous resguardos.
  • Riohacha was nicknamed the “Gateway of Pearls” by the Spanish at the time of the conquest because of the large quantities of pearls they mined on its shores.
  • Riohacha was attacked by English pirate Francis Drake in 1596.
  • Riohacha hosts the oldest carnival in the Colombian Caribbean.
  • Riohacha is the second largest city in the department of La Guajira.
  • Riohacha has a warm climate with temperatures between 19°C and 31°C.
  • Riohacha is the cradle of great athletes and singers.
  • The main industries in Riohacha are trade, services and livestock.
  • Riohacha has a population of approximately 308,000 residents.
  • Riohacha was founded on September 14, 1545.
  • Riohacha has an area of 3,084 square kilometers.

Things to do in Riohacha

Here are some of the city’s top attractions:

Muelle Turístico de Riohacha

The Muelle Turístico de Riohacha is the ideal place to enjoy the sunset as it offers incredible views over the sea.

The stretch of beach was expanded in 1939 by order of then President Alfonso López Pumarejo and redesigned in 2014.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Remedies

The Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios has a very striking colonial architecture. It also houses the wooden effigy of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and the remains of José Prudencio Padilla, who was admiral of the Republic of Colombia.

French engineer Antonio Rameau was responsible for building the church.

The importance of this church is such that it has been declared a cultural heritage.

Monument to the Embarradores

This monument was erected in honor of a traditional festival in Riohacha when people leave their homes on Carnaval Sunday to enjoy themselves in the Laguna Salá (Salt Lagoon).

The Monument de los Embarradores was created by Javier Julio Mendoza.

Rancherías

Rancherías are rural settlements of the Wayúu community of 5 or 6 houses.

Ethnotourism is often practiced in these places, so you can participate in the traditional practices of these communities.

José Prudencio Padilla Square

Plaza José Prudencio Padilla is located in the city center, surrounded by hotels and very close to Riohacha Beach.

In this square is the monument dedicated to José Prudencio Padilla.

Riito Bridge

The Riito Bridge is located on Calle 1 over the mouth of the Ranchería River.

There is a great variety of fish to see in this place and it is also ideal for enjoying the sunsets.

José Prudencio Padilla Monument

The Monument to José Prudencio Padilla is located in Plaza José Prudencio Padilla in the center of the city.

This bronze monument was created by the Italian sculptor Nelly Fonderi.

Nicolás de Federmán Park

Nicolás de Federmán Park is located at the end of Avenida Primera.

Visiting this place, you can admire several cannons that protected the city from pirates in the 17th century and of course the iconic monument of the conqueror Nicolás de Federmán.

The seafront

The seafront promenade (Paseo de la Playa) is located along Street 1.

There are many kiosks here where you can taste delicious ceviches and seafood cocktails.

Monument to Francisco El Hombre

The monument to Francisco El Hombre is located in the roundabout at Carrera 7 and Calle 15.

If you decide to visit this place, you can see the figure of a man playing the accordion, representing Francisco Moscote.

The Francisco El Hombre monument is 5.4 m high, 3.5 m wide and 4.0 m long and is made of pigmented fiberglass fabric reinforced with steel.

The Riohacha Malecon

The Malecon of Riohacha, also known as Paseo de La Marina, is located at Calle 1 with Avenida La Marina.

The Malecon is one of the most important urban spaces in the city as it has a 1,200-meter-long pedestrian street.

Here there are various restaurants, live music and sometimes even big screens to watch football matches.

Muelle beach in Riohacha

Playa del Muelle in Riohacha is the ideal place to relax and clear your head.

Here you can swim and also shop for handicrafts and accessories like backpacks made by the Wayuu indigenous community.

Genesis sculpture

The Genesis sculpture pays homage to the accordion, a representative instrument of Vallenata music.

La Identidad Monument

The 9-meter-high monument La Identidad was created by the master Yino Márquez.

In this monument that pays tribute to the most important figures of the culture of La Guajira, Admiral Padilla, who fought against the Spaniards in search of independence, El “Negro Robles”, who was the first Afro-Colombian to enter the Congress of the Republic, Francisco El Hombre, José Manuel Goneaga, a Wayúu woman and also Kogui, Wiwa and Arhuaco Indians.

Pütchipü Monument

The Pütchipü Monument, created by the master Javier Julio Mendoza, pays homage to the Pütchipü, the main figure of the Wayuu normative system.

The Pütchipü is a peacemaker and a symbol of authority recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Pütchipü Monument is located on Avenida La Marina.

Yellow Butterflies – Sculpture

The sculpture of the yellow butterflies pays homage to the work “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez.

The sculpture, which depicts a group of yellow butterflies flying toward the horizon, was created by Johanna Cerchiaro.

Callejon de los Capuchinos

In this pedestrian street you can admire murals by various artists who, with each of their works, try to convey the historical and cultural values of the city.

Nicolás de Federmán Monument

The Nicolás de Federmán Monument is located in the Nicolás de Federman Park, also known as the Park of Canyons.

“Yo Amo a Riohacha” (I Love Riohacha) Sign

The “Yo Amo A Riohacha” sign, dedicated in 2014, is located at the mouth of the river.

Camellon Sierra Nevada

The Camellón Sierra Nevada is an ecotourism trail designed by the master Otto Arteta, composed of seven parts that reflect the indigenous cultures of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Valle de los Cangrejos beach

Valle de los Cangrejos Beach is located north-west of the city, in the delta of the Ranchería River, and is known for its large population of crabs.

This beach is very popular as it offers spectacular sunsets.

Tourist attractions near Riohacha

Here are some attractions near Riohacha.

Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Reserve

The Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora Los Flamencos is located in the village of Camarones, 15 minutes from Riohacha.

This 7,682-hectare site is one of the places where you can see a large number of flamingos, as it is considered one of Colombia’s National Natural Parks with a large variety of resident and migratory waterbirds.

The importance of this place is such that in 1992 it was declared a national and cultural heritage of the country.

Manaure Salt Pans

The Salinas de Manaure are one of the largest salt mines in Colombia.

On an area of 4,200 hectares one can visit water springs, salt mounds and a salt desert.

An average of 2.5 million tons of crude salt are extracted in the Salinas de Manaure.

This place is located in the municipality of Manaure.

Casa de Robles

Casa de Robles is located in Camarones, 20 km (12.5 miles) from Riohacha.

In this house was born Luis A. Robles, better known as “Negro Robles”, who became the first Afro-Colombian to enter the Congress of the Republic.

After the death of “Negro Robles” in 1999, this house was declared a national monument.

Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela is a fishing village where you can enjoy incredible places such as Piñon Beach, the Lighthouse and Ojo del Agua Beach.

You can also learn about the customs of the Wayuu culture here, since most of the residents of this area belong to this community. It is also the perfect spot for kite surfing.

Cabo de la Vela is 150 km (93 miles) from Riohacha.

El Cerrejon

El Cerrejón is located in the municipality of Barrancas, 103 km (64 miles)  from Ríohacha.

This mine is considered to be one of the largest open pit coal mines in the world.

Cerrejón has a coal production of about 27.5 million tons per year. When I toured the mine, they proudly showed us the renaturalization, which unfortunately was done with invasive plants. The mine also has a major impact on the region in other respects, which is not only positive. Before visiting, you should take a critical look at the mine and the owners (multinational mining companies) and ask critical questions on site.

Mayapo Beaches

Mayapo Beaches are 20 miles from Riohacha.

These beaches are ideal for water sports such as kite surfing and wind surfing.

Uribia

Uribia is a municipality located 97 km (60 miles) from Ríohacha.

This community is considered the indigenous capital of the country as there is a large indigenous population here, particularly the Wayúu community.

Mount Pilon de Azucar

The Cerro Pilón de Azúcar is located near Cabo de la Vela.

This place offers incredible views, one of the best in all of La Guajira.

Maicao

Maicao is a community located 78 km (48.5 miles) from Riohacha.

This municipality is home to La Guajira’s main land port, which receives a variety of goods from Venezuela.

Las Cascadas Natural Park

Las Cascadas Natural Park is located in the municipality of Dibulla, 66 km (41 miles) from Riohacha.

There is a diverse fauna here, including the Guatinaja, the Black-eared Parrot and the Zaino.

You can also enjoy some waterfalls and natural pools.

Jepírachi wind farm

The Jepírachi wind farm is located in the municipality of Uribia, 97 km (60 miles) from Ríohacha.

At this place, which opened in 2004, you can learn how energy is generated in a clean way.

The Jepírachi wind farm generates approximately 60,000 to 75,000 megawatts per hour.

Omar lbn Al-Khattab Mosque

The Omar lbn Al-Jattab Mosque is located in the municipality of Maicao, 78 km (48.5 miles) from Riohacha.

This mosque was built in 1987 and is the third largest mosque in Latin America.

Best time to visit Riohacha

The best time to visit Riohacha is between January and March, when the weather conditions are more favorable to visit and enjoy the city’s various tourist attractions.

Also, in January and February, you can experience the city’s most important event, the Riohacha Carnival.

Events in Riohacha

Here are the main events that take place in Riohacha throughout the year that you should not miss.

National Dividivi Festival and Queen of the Dividivi

The National Dividivi Festival and the Queen of the Dividivi is one of the most important events in Riohacha and more generally in all of La Guajira, as it commemorates the founding of the department.

The name of this festival comes from the Dividivi tree, a true symbol of La Guajira as it is found everywhere due to its enormous wealth.

The festival has been held since 1969 and is celebrated on June 28th, 29th and 30th and July 1st.

Riohacha Carnival

The Riohacha Carnival is celebrated between January and February.

During these celebrations, verbenas, corralejas, dances and horse races, among others, take place.

This festival is typical of the Caribbean and many Latin American countries.

Typical of the Caribbean and many Latin American cities, the fiesta is a festival that takes place during the months of January and February.

In these celebrations there are parades of comparsas, fairs, parades of floats and of course the central event, the carnival of the “embarradores” where people leave their homes to get silted up in the Laguna Salá.

Feast Francisco El Hombre

The Francisco El Hombre festival brings together the best exponents of romantic, modern and traditional Vallenato music.

The festival takes place on the weekend of the San Jose Festival in March.

Riohacha’s birthday

The founding of the city is celebrated on September 14 of each year. Various concerts and folklore parades take place on this day.

Feast of the Virgen de los Remedios

The Fiesta de la Virgen de los Remedios is a religious celebration that takes place on February 2nd every year.

This festival commemorates a miracle attributed to the Virgen de los Remedios on May 14, 1663.

Nightlife in Riohacha

Riohacha has some amazing places to listen to music and dance, here are some of them.

La Morena tapas bar

Calle 1 Av La Marina # 8-75

https://www.facebook.com/lamorenatapasbar/

In the tapas bar La Morena there is a wide range of music as well as cocktails and snacks.

La Romana food and drink

Calle 14 # 15-106

https://www.facebook.com/LaRomanaRiohacha/

La Romana Food and Drinks has good music, alcoholic drinks and the best American hamburgers in town.

Typical food in Riohacha

These are some of the typical dishes that you can find in Riohacha.

Friche

Friche is a dish made from goat meat, oil and salt.

It is usually served with grilled arepas, flour or yucca buns.

Shrimp Rice

Arroz de Camarón is a dish that essentially consists of rice, shrimp, plantains and lettuce.

Panela water with lemon is usually served with this dish.

Salpicon de chucho

Salpicón de chucho is made with mutton, peeled tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, chopped onion, pepper, and vinegar to taste.

Chirrinchi

Chirrinchi, also known as Yotshi, is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from sugar cane honey or panela.

Papaya candies

It is a papaya candy made with sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

Turtle rice

Arroz con tortuga is a dish made with rice, tomatoes, onions, turtle meat, peppers, garlic and salt.

This is usually accompanied by arepa, rolls and chicha de maíz.

Braised iguana with coconut

This dish basically consists of braised iguana and coconut.

There are also ginger, onions, salt and paprika.

Malangada

Malangada is a dish made with malanga, chicken, garlic, onion, oil, tomato, chili and salt.

Venado Guisado

Venado Guisado is a dish made with venison, onions, garlic, peppers, lime, vinegar, lemon, pepper and salt.

Arroz con frijol morado guajiro (rice with purple guajiro beans)

Arroz con frijol morado guajiro (rice with purple beans) is made with rice, white onions, purple beans, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.

Accommodation in Riohacha

Did you fall in love with Riohacha reading this guide? Discover the best lodging options for your trip in our hotels in Riohacha blog. And if you want to explore all of La Guajira, don’t miss our top hotels in the region.

How to get to Riohacha

The city of Riohacha is located 1046 kilometers from Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. There are several ways to get from Bogotá to Riohacha.

Airplane

The quickest way to get to Riohacha is by plane. Almirante Padilla International Airport is connected to Bogotá and the main cities of the country. This airport is located at Calle 30 # 26a-81.

You can fly with different airlines like Avianca or Latam.

The airlines that offer connections are as follows:

Bus

Riohacha has a bus station at Calle 15 # 11-1 to 11-129 from where you can travel with bus companies such as Expreso Brasilia and Copetran.

The journey takes about 19 hours.

The easiest way to buy tickets is via Pinbus.

By car

Another option is to travel by car, although it can be quite long, taking between 19 and 20 hours depending on traffic jams and travel speed.

Please note that you have to pay about 10 tolls along the way.

The following companies rent cars in Colombia:

  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • ABC

Colombia Travel Guides

Here you will find travel guides for the most popular regions in Colombia, which we have put together during our extensive travels around the country.

Travel Guides to Colombia’s Small Towns

Here you will find travel guides for less popular destinations in Colombia. Some of these destinations are even real insider tips and not even known to the Colombians as travel destinations.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia.I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia.For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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